by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef of the Martin Center asks whether Americans can accept the facts surrounding different levels of academic achievement.
In the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men,” there is a courtroom scene where the prosecuting attorney (played by Tom Cruise) tells the defendant Marine officer Nathan Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) that he wants the truth. To that, Jessup shouts back, “You can’t handle the truth.”
What brings that to mind is the recent revelation that the College Board (CB) has begun calculating an “adversity score” for each student who takes its aptitude test, the SAT. Apparently, the people running the CB don’t believe that we can handle the truth that individual students vary in their academic abilities, and therefore their actual SAT scores must be adjusted (“put in context”) to supposedly reflect the circumstances of the test taker.
Schools will receive adversity scores that boost the actual scores of students to the degree that the CB thinks they have faced adversity in their lives. How well students are actually prepared for academic work will now be hidden behind an egalitarian gauze that is supposed to make things more fair.
Strangely, the news about this change in the SAT was not trumpeted by the CB itself but rather was revealed in the Wall Street Journal. Author Douglas Belkin explained that the CB “has worried about income inequality influencing test results for years” and he quotes CB chief executive David Coleman, “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”